Building with wood has its benefits. We know that timber sequesters carbon, promotes health and wellness when exposed in buildings, and is easier to recycle than traditional building materials. But with CLT, LVL, NLT and other forms of mass timber materials still in their infancy in some jurisdictions, the cost-benefit of using wood for the construction of larger towers, those 12-to-18 storeys tall, has come into question.
A Canadian study, conducted in partnership with WSP Canada, BTY Group, Axiom Builders and ZGF, sought to understand the comparative building costs using mass timber products versus other forms of building materials. The report only conducted a like-for-like comparison, using the fluctuating cost data experienced in the mass timber supply chain in the British Columbia market, more specifically Vancouver.
“Our goal was to assess the viability of mass timber for this product type in BC by comparing the cost, construction methods, and schedules of a typical concrete high-rise in Vancouver to those for the same building using mass timber as the principal structural material. To undertake the study, the group created virtual models of the base building and conceptual models for side-by-side detailed comparisons.”
Located on Canada’s Pacific coast, the province has the country’s largest wood supply, and manufacturers of mass timber products, but supply issues created by the pandemic caused prices to jump significantly. This study considers those price and supply variables, and includes data that can be modified to reflect local material costs.